Innovative learning strategies for modern pedagogy

Jane Wood-Chambers

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

What is the current pedagogy in education in the UK and what are the innovative teaching methods employed to support it?

refers to the way in which the teachers and the pupils/students relate to one another, the environment in which they learn, and the learning tasks undertaken. It is really all about relationships and how the teachers and pupils/students relate to one another, including the style of communication used by the teacher in the classroom to instruct.

Our parents/grandparents and even some of us would have experienced the ‘chalk and talk’ method of teaching where the delivery of the curriculum was mainly from a subject specialist teacher from the front of the class in the form of a lecture. This method alone would look very out of place in a modern British classroom and questions would be asked about how this one style of delivery is accessed by all the pupils.

Education has developed and evolved over the past decades and having a deeper understanding of how children learn, methods teachers employ that enable them to achieve their potential and the support and guidance required to achieve this has been an exciting and interesting journey for all of us.

There has been a huge change in, for example how reading and literature is taught. Reading, when I was at school was taught mainly through having access to read books and been immersed in a rich culture of text and opportunities for accessing stories, poetry, letters, biographies, instructions and other forms of the written word.

Colourful pie chart

There was very little word or sentence level instruction and I cannot remember being taught a single grammar lesson! Very different from how I first taught literacy, when the literacy hour was introduced, and the English language explained in a very different style and form.

Both worked for some and not all and both styles of delivery, the pedagogical approach had their merits; they also had their deficits too and reflection, analysis, trial and error and research map the journey the teaching of literacy has had!

Modern pedagogy focus on the teacher/pupil relationship and the methods employed by the teacher and the setting to continue this positive engagement and to ensure the curriculum is relevant, interesting and fully understood in order for the skill and knowledge gained to be used and applied with confidence and innovation. 

There are 8 features which clearly reflect this pedagogical approach; that will ensure a positive relationship is formed with the pupils/students and that they are engaged fully in the learning.

1. Providing a safe, secure and enabling environment

Having policies, procedures, rules and systems in place that are known and understood is essential and allows for a sense of security for all in the classroom, adults and pupils alike.

2. Making it clear what the safeguarding procedures are in a setting and for all pupils

Feeling confident that pupils will be valued, heard and accepted, regardless of them as individuals allow for a culture of openness and confidence in the child protection policies and procedures.

3. Delivering a curriculum appropriate and relevant to all pupils

Considering, adapting and refining a curriculum and the methods employed to teach it to allow all pupils to access what is being taught.

4. Ensuring the pupils know what they are learning, how they will learn and when they will know if they have learnt

This will allow for greater pupil involvement and engagement and self-reflection.

coloured lightbulbs

5. Highlighting pupil progress and ensuring progression is made by all

Each pupil needs to know and understand what their starting point is and where they need to be on their own personnel continuum, with clear manageable targets that are known and understood.

6. Having available the necessary range of resources, including technology, that supports and enhance the curriculum and individual’s needs

Embedding knowledge and skills in the variety of learning styles whether that be auditory, visual or kinaesthetic allows all pupils to access the curriculum.

7. Support for pupils with specific and special educational needs and disabilities through a differentiated offer

Assessing, producing a programme of modifications and enhancements and supporting the recommendations in the classroom is statutory, a legal requirement and essential to allow for all pupils to make progress.

8. Knowing and understanding the pupil and the family and community they belong to

This contextualisation sets the pupils into their own individual context and engaging with the parents and carers of the pupil offers support and challenge for the teacher and the parents/carers and further support for the pupil.

Now that the pedagogical approach has been set in the classroom and is known and understood by adults and children’s alike it is important to think about the variety of learning strategies that can be employed to support it.

Old way new way

The innovative nature of what is taught and how it is taught is key as it supports the pedagogy.

  • A cross-curricular curriculum: Enabling pupils to be taught through topic-based learning in order to make links between subjects and to adapt knowledge and the skills learnt to real life situations and events. Designing, making and delivering a puppet show! Maths, DT, Art, English, History and Geography.

  • Context-based learning: What better way to learn something than to put the learning into a relevant context? Measurement and number can be made so much more relevant and concepts grasped easier by organising a class shop, with real money and peer customers in order to understand the denominations of money and counting.

  • Incidental learning: Learning when you do not even know that you are! Games, activities and opportunities that teach discreet and necessary skills. Speaking and listening and reading can be discretely taught throughout the curriculum and can support all pupils. Practising and delivering a class assembly is the forum for the skills learnt.

  • Stealth assessment: As educators we need to assess the pupils to gauge what they have learnt. Doing it through key questioning, observations and output (formative assessment) is an alternative to the summative assessments that can only really produce a snapshot of the pupils’ capabilities.

  • Embodied learning: an educational method that does not only offer an intellectual way of teaching, but also a physical one, one that involves the whole body. Using the PE lesson to teach maths skills; throwing small bean bags to one another and counting how many times they can do this before the bag is dropped!
  • Adaptive teaching: Knowing and understanding your class and how each of your pupils learns best and knowing what level they are enabling personalised learning programmes to be developed and taught. The most obvious example of this is the systems for reading that schools employ. It may be marked through an accelerated reader, the Oxford Reading Scheme or even colours and numbers! The levelling allows for directed resourcing, teaching and peer support.

Lightbulb chalkboard

  • Computational learning: Computational thinking enables us to solve any given challenge through an analytical and methodical approach. Put simply, computational thinking teaches students to process information as a computer would. It guides students through a series of steps, similar to an algorithm, to solve open-ended problems. Planning and mapping out how a project will be approached shows this computational learning clearest. A methodical approach to making a class book or publishing a series of poems.

  • Analytics of emotions: The push to better personalize learning is evident in the majority of schools. There are more focus and attention on responding to individual students' "mindsets," non-cognitive skills, and emotional states. Allowing the pupil to be in the ‘right psychological place’ to learn. Circle time, PSHE, restorative justice, mindfulness, yoga and class communal opportunities all support the emotional well-being of the pupils.

  • Argumentation: Bridging the gap between the virtual and physical worlds. Augment changes the way we see, imagine, and learn about the world around us. Using augmented reality (AR) apps and platforms enables students and teachers to visualize 3D models in the real environment, in real time, and at scale.

  • Science working: A teaching focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Subjects that have often been marginalised and not studied post 16. Developing an interest in STEM through Science weeks and national campaigns have reignited the interest in the subjects and also across the genders.

Whatever your own personal pedagogical approach and teaching methods it is important to remember how best you as an individual learn.

Feeling liked, secure, warm, fed and happy is a prerequisite and knowing what you are learning and why is essential!

Add in the opportunities to learn in different ways with new and exciting resources and you have a recipe for success for yourself, which you can then apply to the pupils that you teach!


About our Community Expert


Jane Wood-Chambers
Editorial Advisory Board Lead

Over 27 years of educational experiences in a number of settings. Developed a clear vision and ethos for inclusion which puts the child at the centre and a clear understanding of how to support, engage and nurture the individual.

Ability to train all staff through effective and reflective continual professional development in behavioural management techniques that begin, establish and maintain change in all.

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